David Subba is a Commercial Banking Relationship Manager with HSBC UK, a role he has filled for more than five years. Global Banking & Finance Review editor, Wanda Rich spoke to him about how the role is evolving due to fewer branches and increased digitalisation, the part Relationship Managers play in aiding business clients to rebuild following the pandemic, and the importance of strong relationships during times of excessive challenge.
At HSBC what role does relationship banking play? How important is it?
Within HSBC UK relationship managers (RMs) play a vital role in supporting our customers in reaching their full potential.
RMs provide tailored support to individual customers, ensuring they are making best use of the right products and also using the power of the HSBC network to engage with sector specialists and experts in more than 60 markets around the world.
The role of the RM is essential in developing customer relationships and supporting businesses as they look to expand their operations and grow. Our RMs place the needs of customers at the forefront of everything they do and we aim to set world class standards that provide our customers with the best chance of success.
Can you tell us about the Relationship Manager development programme and its importance?
The RM is a role that develops and grows over time and as we strive to provide the best service for our customers it is vital that our RMs are provided with development opportunities which enable them to achieve an aspirational career within commercial banking.
Our RMs join the Relationship Manager Development Programme which lasts a minimum of three years and is aimed at providing colleagues with opportunities to understand different types of businesses enabling them to build experience and knowledge.
This benefits our RMs personally by developing skills and giving them the opportunity to find the areas that they excel in, which in turn gives our customers an even better level of service.
How do your relationship managers help support businesses clients?
RMs provide a range of end-to-end solutions designed to help small and large businesses grow. That includes everything from day-to-day advice on managing cash-flow to longer-term strategic financing decisions and supporting businesses as they seek new pathways to growth.
At HSBC UK our RMs work closely with customers to support their ambitions, whether that involves expanding overseas and understanding the nuances of exports and imports or striving to reach their sustainability goals which we can support through sustainable finance products.
The relationships that our RMs build are vital to the success of our business and our customers. We also find that by nurturing relationships closely over a period of time that customers will be more likely to reach out and talk to us during the more difficult times, allowing us to understand the challenges they face so we can provide the right advice and effective financing solutions.
How is the role evolving, with the decrease in branches and increased use of digital channels?
We’re increasingly seeing customers come to us for advice and support rather than just help with transactions. The pandemic has been a huge accelerator of digital change across society and businesses of all shapes and sizes have needed to adapt at pace. While digital enhancements such as cheque scanning and digital signatures reduce the need for customers to meet with RMs face to face within branches, RM still have a huge role to play in the future of commercial banking.
Businesses are at different stages of their own digital journeys, with some far more advanced and others needing extra support. RMs continue to work closely with customers to understand their individual needs and provide them with the right digital banking tools that are required in order to fully understand their own cash-flow and financing needs.
We’re also seeing an increased focus from business on the sustainability agenda as they look to incorporate sustainable operations into their day-to-day business as they build back from the pandemic. Firms are feeling pressure from a number of external sources to put sustainability at the top of their priority and RMs are talking to them about the suite of sustainable finance products that can support their green ambitions.
Businesses have never needed sound financial advice more than they do now as the economy looks to build back from the pandemic. The role of the RM has always been focussed on the strength of relationships and that will continue to be the case as technology and digital tools evolve.
How have you had to adapt how you interact with clients due to the current pandemic?
Throughout the pandemic the priority has been for our RMs to stay close to their customers. Businesses were facing truly unprecedented challenges unlike anything they had experienced before and to know that we were here to support them was vital.
RMs were encouraged to speak with customers regularly and provided an essential role in breaking down and explaining the government COVID lending schemes so that customers could access the vital funds they needed as quickly as possible.
As RMs we were also facing the same challenges as our customers, this was as much an unprecedented time for us as it was for them and during those fast-changing times it was essential that we fully understood the new schemes and how they could help customers. Through continued dialogue we were able to fully understand how customers were being impacted and provided them with the advice, information and finance they needed to get through.